Monday, August 22, 2016

Warning Stones - Have you built below this point

At the edge of Aneyoshi, a small village in Japan, stands an ancient stone tablet. About 3m high it is one of many similar markers, some up to 6 centuries old, dotting the Japanese coastline that stand testament and state warnings to the community. The one at Aneyoshi says "Do not build your home below this point", proving its message to within 300m of the tsunami impact of 2011.

As I read articles about the existence of these warning stones and the experiences that drove the communities to erect such sign posts I cant help but see the kinship to warning stones that may exist in our organisations and institutions. Warning stones that are similarly ignored or not understood. "Do not build your houses below this point"


Japanese history is dotted with similar tsunamis to that of 2011 so you would think that the message was pretty clear, "do not build your houses below this point". No argument or discussion. Just don't!

Similarly there are many warning stones or markers that organisational founders and developers leave for us that should be heeded also. Just like the ancient Japanese it was the intent that their descendants avoid the disastrous experience they had endured. So why do we not heed the warnings?

"You don't understand the language"

One of the problems is that the language used in the Japanese inscriptions is not the language used today, so the current generation don't understand the message. Similarly, we are at risk of also disregarding rules and principles that sit at the core of our organisations because we are simply unable to interpret them or the language used has lost its potency. Maybe the media holding the advice or the format cant be played on our newer devices. Maybe its just that the message is just not contemporary enough for us.

"You have never experienced the event"

Another problem is that many of our people have not experienced the event for which the rules or principles apply. They have not endured any hardship or "tsunami" events. Our people have joined our organisations during the growth and good times and probably inherited prosperity, not understanding where or how the first dollar was earned or the near collapse that happened. Try explaining the great depression or the GFC to future generations. How will your warnings be heeded or not by those you hand over to? How will you communicate the message?

"Where is our house built?"

Is it time to take a walk around and look at the coastline. Are there things that we have overlooked in the journey of our predecessors that need heeding. Are we just keeping up with the latest medium without bring across the media itself? Do we need to go back to the founding statements of why we are here and why we exist, and examine where we are standing at the moment?

Have we been drawn into the "global village" down by the coast to be with everyone else? Are we in the danger zone?

Are there things in our personal life that need to be relocated?

Have we built our house below the warning stone?